I had an interesting chat this weekend with personal friend and Travis Lane Coaching advocate Allen Herbert. As we often do, we discussed higher education and the choices people make in that arena.
Allen was talking about a friend of his who was deciding on a major and neglected a very solid field of study from their consideration. The reason? They didn’t want to be locked into something related to that degree for an entire career.
Now, I’ve made some people pretty upset over the fact that I think some college degrees are a worthless sham. I still think that. Here’s a more elegantly stated reason why. It’s not just about the money, it’s about unlocking an opportunity that is only unlockable via a degree.
When I say you should pick a college major with good career prospects regardless of whether you love the field or not, I do not mean you shouldn’t pursue a career or further your education in areas that you love. By no means. But you should not spend four years and tens of thousands of dollars to obtain an education that is unnecessary to enter that field.
If you’re going to go to college, assess the return on investment. If $30,000+ and 4 years of full-time study unlocks a career for you that is in demand and pays at rates above the poverty line, then it’s probably a good investment. If you want to work doing something you love and the pay is low, do it… or better yet, get creative and find a way to maximize not only your job satisfaction but also your income. But don’t spend all that time and money for an education that doesn’t give you new and fruitful opportunities. That is a waste.
You see, furthering your education, whether via personal reading, attending seminars and workshops, networking, formal classroom education, or anything else you can imagine, it never eliminates opportunities. It only creates them. If it’s an expensive or lengthy investment, it should open up high dollar opportunities.
And the best part of those kinds of investments it’s that they’re almost universally acknowledged, even outside the specific field of study it takes place in. I’ve got an old friend with an engineering degree who graduated and went straight into a Sales Management position at Pepsi. Though irrelevant at face value, his high investment degree was recognized more as a statement of personal character and intellect than as a technical indicator.
So you see, education really is about opportunity. Don’t be sold on the idea that you have to follow some linear progression from degree into relevant job field and get stuck in that industry forever.
Continually educate yourself, make wise decisions regarding costly formal education, and go find or create something that you love.